10 DEC 17
Abellio wins West Midlands Rail Franchise

West Midlands Trains Ltd (WMT), is a joint venture, owned by Abellio and its partners for the bid, Mitsui and East Japan Railway Company (JR East), has been announced as the preferred bidder to run the next West Midlands rail franchise from 10 December 2017.



Over the next nine years, WMT will deliver nearly £1bn into the region with £700m of this going into new and refurbished trains. This investment will bring significant improvements to the network. By the end of the franchise, it will have created space for 85,000 more passengers to travel to London and Birmingham during rush hour, with significantly improved stations and the widespread introduction of smart ticketing. Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, said: “We are delighted to have been announced as the winning bidder for the West Midlands franchise, driving growth in one of the most exciting regions in the country. We will be investing nearly £1bn into the network, delivering new trains, better stations and a whole host of other benefits for passengers.”


Key improvements to be delivered by the new franchise include:

  • Nearly £1bn invested in services on the network over the course of the franchise with £700m of this going into investment in new and refurbished trains. 400 new carriages will be rolled out by 2021, creating space for an extra 85,000 passengers on rush hour services in Birmingham and London;
  • 20,000 extra rush hour seats for people in Birmingham and 10,000 for people in London. On top of this, standing room for 50,000 extra people in Birmingham, in metro style carriages for shorter cross-city journeys;
  • £70m invested in new and existing depots to improve train reliability;
  • Over £60m invested in station improvements, delivering over 1,000 new car parking spaces and over 2,500 cycle parking spaces. This is alongside new and refurbished waiting rooms, more seats at stations, and feasibility studies into developing new stations in the West Midlands;
  • A greater choice of travel options for passengers thanks to the introduction of new Sunday services by 2021. This includes services from Birmingham to Shrewsbury and between Bedford and Bletchley;
  • Greater provision of passenger information, with audio visual displays on all trains by the end of 2019, as well as 800 new digital screens across the network;
  • Free WI-FI on all trains by the end of December 2019;
  • The creation of over 900 new apprenticeships over the course of the franchise, with existing staff benefitting from a £13m investment in staff training and development; and
  • An investment of £1.25m into community rail initiatives.


This announcement is also notable for being the first time that any Japanese company has been successful in a bid for a rail franchise. Mitsui is a global conglomerate with interests across many different sectors, including rail. JR East runs rail services in Japan, transporting 17 million people a day and runs the busiest rail station in the world in Tokyo.


Congratulations to Abellio on winning the West Midlands Rail Franchise. We are proud to have supported the company in the preparation of its tender.